The Best Trekking Places In The Indian Himalayas

The solitary act of trekking in the Indian Himalayas and waiting for your feet to move forward is the closest one can ever get to the feeling of enlightenment. The Indian ranges are not only remote, barren and beautiful but often forgotten or rarely even visited by others besides the Indian locals.

It’s a good thing as it keeps treks in the Indian mountain ranges untouched, prices relatively cheap and not crazy expensive compared to India’s neighbour, Nepal. Having visited India on my first solo backpacking trip for 3 months, I trekked many places and mountains in the Indian Himalayas that left me awestruck and showed me the power of these massifs and what good they can provide to your soul.

To top it all, the section of the Indian Himalayas is not in one concentrated area - it spans 6 Indian states, Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh and West Bengal. Even on my 3 months stint, I couldn’t even visit all these far-flung places to spend time trekking in these regions and managed to visit 4 states and spent time visiting some of the most beautiful and heartwarming hill-tribes who speak different languages, have different customs and traditions.

Also Read: Solo Trippin' In Northern India: Why Travel to India Alone (As A Female)?

The Best trekking places in india are varied, beautiful and rugged.

The Best trekking places in india are varied, beautiful and rugged.

The mountain people live in fragile landscapes and staying on their local grounds was a blessing to visit and understand their innovative livelihood options and range of highly selective crops.

There was a thought that triggered me as I stayed in these mountains and saw piles of garbage everywhere with sweet MangoBite hard candies wrapper: It got me thinking as a hiker: ‘What use are we to this landscapes?’ To feed our excitement of climbing these mountains, we’re often visitors in these landscapes and the world is not made for our utility.

Alas, I have come to understand truth does nothing for humans, without use. Hence, what we can do is have a conscience - and follow it by not bringing along your modern essentials on a trek and dispose your trash responsibly.

Here are some of the best trekking places in the Indian Himalayas that I had visited and some that were shared with me during my travels.

Trekking in Jammu & Kashmir

Kashmir Great Lakes

Rightly called the most stunning region in India likened to the European ranges, but far more beautiful, authentic and literally ‘heaven on earth’ as what locals describe it. Kashmir evokes images of artistry, poets, mountains, lakes and love amid the sea of wildflowers that surround the landscapes.

There’s something magical about visiting the high-altitude alpine lakes, camping underneath the evening stars and watching the local Kashmiris carrying on with their day in an unhurried pace.

The trek is located above Sonamarg which lies on the Srinagar to Leh highway, just before the Zozila pass. It takes around 7-8 days to do complete the Kashmir Great Lakes trek, but the mountains leave you gasping for air and speechless leaving you with memories that will last a lifetime.

Quick Info
Duration: 7-8 Days
Max. elevation: 4,910 m (Gadsar Pass)
Start/Finish: Srinagar/Gangabal
Difficulty: Easy-Moderate
Trail Style: Camping

Stok Kangri

At 6,153m above sea level, you can easily say that Stok Kangri has been reserved for hikers who want to experience a high-altitude trek without having any technical assistance. This does not mean that this trek is absolutely suited for beginners - it is a mean feat to be able to trek the last 1,000m to the summit on the last day, and have adequate know-hows about using an ice-axe and crampons.

It is after all the highest mountain in the Stok Range of the Himalayas in the Ladakh region of north India. The peak is located in Hemis National Park, 12 km southwest of the trailhead in the village of Stok.

Trekkers say that climbing the Stok mountain is more than an adventure, it is often about taking a challenge, defeating your inner voices and finding unconsumed energy reserves in your tank.

Quick Info
Duration: 8-12 Days
Max. elevation: 6,153 m (Stok)
Start/Finish: Chilling/Stok
Difficulty: Hard
Trail Style: Camping

Parang La Trek (Tso Moriri to Spiti Valley)

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Imagine a remote plateau where you get to experience the diverse landscapes of Spiti Valley and come across the wild villages of the Changtang region that was first settled by the Tibetan nomads.

This stunning voyage gives you the best of two terrains where one gets to experience one of the most beautiful and sacred lakes in India. Tso Moriri is the largest high altitude lake in India that is entirely in Indian territory, not like the Pangong lake where it extends to Tibet and China.

The rest of the trek gives you a taste of the Spiti-life, encompassing the spirit of the old kingdom and the western fringes of the Tibetan plateau. It is unlike any other place, and this is perhaps one of the treks that I have been meaning to do.

Quick Info
Duration: 12-14 Days
Max. elevation: 5,700m (Parang La Pass)
Start/Finish: Korzok Camp/Kibber
Difficulty: Moderate - Hard
Trail Style: Camping

Kang Yatse II

Almost an unheard trek in Ladakh, and one that requires skills, tenacity and grit of a half mountaineer. Standing at 6,250m tall, this is a summit not meant for beginners or not meant for people who have not summited the Stok Kangri.

If you have the strength to climb back-to-back summits and have extended time in Leh, Kang Yatse II might be the answer for you. It is a tough undertaking, but one that will feed into your happy soul as you camp in lush meadows and fresh grass at the banks of the Markha river.

Devoid of the glamour that Stok Kangri offers, Kang Yatse looks unpretentious and towers up like a pyramid but it also gives you a hard look at life as you prepare the fight gusty winds and strap on your crampons and axe. The slopes get steeper as you climb the unforgiving terrain on Kang Yatse II and you will across situations where the lines between adrenaline and anxiety get blurred.

Quick Info
Duration: 9 Days
Max. elevation: 6,200m (Kang Yatse II)
Start/Finish: Markha Valley / Shang Sumdo
Difficulty: Hard
Trail Style: Camping

Note: You might also wonder why Chadar Trek is not listed here - feel free to read my post on why I don’t recommend it.

Also Read: To Nothingness: A Leh Ladakh Bike/Road Trip For Thoughtful Travellers

Trekking in Himachal Pradesh

Chandratal Baralacha La Trek

There is no shortage of turquoise blue waters, high mountain passes, small streams and lush grasslands. For a short duration of time, you get to see the vivid colours of Himachal’s wild ‘Moon Lake’ located at an altitude of 4,300m - the Chanratal Lake. According to local folklore, Chandratal is the point from where Yudhishtra ( the oldest among Pandava of Mahabharata epic) was taken to heaven in his mortal form.

Baralacha La, is situated at the elevation of 4,890 meters and lies on the Leh-Manali Highway - making it one of the high altitude motorable mountain passes that connects the Spiti, Ladakh, Zanskar and Lahaul regions.

Quick Info
Duration: 6 Days
Max. elevation: 4,830m (Baralacha La Trek)
Start/Finish: Batal / Zingzing bar
Difficulty: Easy - Moderate
Trail Style: Camping

Pin Bhaba Pass Trek

The allure of the mountain ranges in Spiti Valley draws many intrepid hikers and trekkers to visit this little valley nestled in Himachal Pradesh. The Pin Parvati pass was one of the treks that grew in popularity due to its thrilling glacier crosses across verdant grasslands from Himachal to Spiti tagging it as one of the greatest Himalayan crossover.

However, safety issues abound on a trek as popular as Pin Parvati pass as reported by IndiaHikes that a better option would be the Pin Bhaba pass. It has all the workings of a stunning terrain with tiny delta shaped islands at Phutsirang.

Quick Info
Duration: 7 Days
Max. elevation: 4,865m (Pin Bhaba Pass)
Start/Finish: Kafnu/Mudh
Difficulty: Easy - Moderate
Trail Style: Camping

Deo Tibba Trek

Not all treks require extensive planning and a trek guide or leader, and Deo Tibba trek is a pleasant and moderate trek in Manali that takes you to some crazy beautiful views and Alpine lakes, moraines, waterfalls and the blue waters of the small Chandrataal lake.

Mt. Deo Tibba is situated in the Pir Panjal range of mountains in the Manali region. At 6,001 meters, it is known to be the second highest peak in Himachal Pradesh after Indrasan (and one of the top 20 highest peaks in India).

The origins of Deo Tibba’s name comes from the Hindu mythology where dome shaped peak is where the gods are positioned. hence the name Deo  which means ‘God’ and Tibba meaning ‘Hill’.

The hike can be done independently but some experience in the remote grasslands and camping on your own are a prerequisite.

Quick Info
Duration: 6 Days
Max. elevation: 4,480m(Small Chandratal Lake)
Start/Finish: Manali/Baara Hazar
Difficulty: Easy - Moderate
Trail Style: Camping

Trekking in Uttarakhand

Deorital & Chandrashila Trek

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Imagine chowing down your favourite parathas and having a steaming cup of ‘chai’ in a small unassuming village in Chopta just a day before the hike. I had no idea what to expect but I knew that this was the starting point before my hike to the Chandrashila peak also known as ‘Moon Rock’ and the highest Shiv temple in the world.

Chopta is a small region of meadows filled with evergreen forest areas which also belongs to the Kedarnath wildlife sanctuary in Uttarakhand. The views from this tiny hut provided a picture-perfect view of some of the highest mountains in the world.

The trek took us to Deori Tal lake, a pristine lake located about 3 km atop a hill from the villages of Mastura and Sari, on Ukhimath–Chopta road.

While trekking, we were surrounded by some of the highest Indian mountains such as Nanda Devi, the 23rd highest mountain in the world and Chaukamba which forms the head of the Gangotri glacier, all standing at approximately 7,000 metres above sea level. It was surreal to be this close to the stratosphere and experience not only one mountain but thousands of other magical massifs that surrounded me.

Quick Info
Duration: 3 days
Max. elevation: 3,682m (Chandrashila Peak)
Start/Finish: Ukhimath/Chopta
Difficulty: Easy
Trail Style: Camping / Homestay

Also Read: Trekking In The Indian Himalayas: Tungnath and Chandrashila Trek

Valley of Flowers Trek

It is rare to find a trek that encapsulates the rich biodiversity of the Himalayan landscapes and where the scent of the surroundings follows you at every turn.

Flowers bloom in all sorts of colours ranging from purple, blue, purple, pink and white all the way that is hard to see anything beyond that.

The cherry on the cake is the jaw-dropping sacred lake, Hemkund Lake which is situated near ‘Hemkund Sahib’ the famous shrine of Sikhs. It is also known as the “Lake of Snow” which is adorned with seven glorious peaks ranging about 15,200 feet in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand. 

Quick Info
Duration: 6 days
Max. elevation: 4,161m (Hemkund Sahib)
Start/Finish: Govind Ghat/Govind Ghat
Difficulty: Easy
Trail Style: Camping

Gangotri - Gaumukh Trek

In the Uttarkashi region of India, the Gangotri to Gaumukh trek contains a lot of stories and beliefs attached to this pilgrimage, with the most notable fact that it traces the source of the Ganga river.

Located in the rugged terain of Uttarkashi region, Gangotri Glacier is a 28 km long and almost 4 km wide. Just below the Chaukhambha peak, the glacier flows northwest and the course of water takes a turn creating the shape of a cow’s mouth called Gaumukh which means cow’s mouth, and the source from where the Ganga originates.

The 17 km trek to the holy land of many Hindus is located by the banks of Bhagirathi and is famous for its awe-inspiring landscapes and spiritual experience.

Quick Info
Duration: 5 days
Max. elevation: 4,463m (Tapovan)
Start/Finish: Gangotri / Gangotri
Difficulty: Moderate
Trail Style: Camping

Nanda Devi Base Camp Trek

Tagged as one of the most outrageously beautiful peaks in India, the Nanda Devi Base Camp trek is a Trans Himalayan trek in the Kumaon Himalayas and the second highest mountain in India at 7,816m.

The peak, whose name means "Bliss-Giving Goddess", is regarded as the patron-goddess of the Uttarakhand Himalaya, in acknowledgment of its religious significance. I first noticed this two-peak massif when I was in hiking other mountains in Uttarakhand - the spear-like peak stood out compared to other surrounding peaks in the Garhwal region. The mountain rises tall and its scale is even compared to K2’s profile in Pakistan.

For the Base Camp trek, the journey passes through Jauhar valley, where the valley used to be a major trade route with Tibet. What makes it special is that you get to start your journey from the hills at Neem Kharoli Baba temple, Bhowali. Legend has it Steve Jobs spent time here in and the 1970s seeking guidance from Hindu Guru, Neem Karoli Baba and soon after which Apple was born.

Quick Info
Duration: 10-12 days
Max. elevation: 4,150m (Nanda Devi East Base Camp)
Start/Finish: Munsiyari / Chillumdhar
Difficulty: Hard
Trail Style: Camping

Trekking in Sikkim

Darjeeling-Kanchenjunga trail (Sandakphu)

Sikkim, I was told, was fairy-like, sacred, completely off-the-beaten path and the gateway to Indo-China. Known for its idyllic settings, pristine mountains, monasteries, and far removed from the non-existent modern life essentials.

And the beauty of it all is fronted by the third highest mountain in the world, Kanchenjunga. Scores of people make that mistake to hike to Tiger Hill to catch a tiny glimpse of the snow-capped 8,586m peak which is often hidden by clouds.

Setting out on a journey to view Kanchenjunga at it base camp is far more rewarding when you undertake a long trek passing through forests, meadows, rivers, nomadic hill-tribes and monasteries. The journey starts at Manebhanjyang, moving on to Tonglu, Gairibas, and Sandakphu on the Singalila Ridge, and after that on to Phalut, Raman, and Rimbik before a break at Yuksom. From there, trekkers will stop at Goecha La to get to Kanchenjunga Base Camp.

Quick Info
Duration: 17 days
Max. elevation: 5,160m (Kanchenjunga Base Camp)
Start/Finish: Darjeeling / Tashiding
Difficulty: Moderate-Hard
Trail Style: Camping / Homestay

Dzongri Trek

Imagine open roads and the view of snow clad peaks serving as an immediate contrast with the otherwise crowded roads in large cities. The Dzongri Trek takes you to a small village in Yuksom, with a population of 150 people. It is a shorter alternative to the Goecha La trek but offers beauties and hidden finds especially rhododendron flowers on the trail

The journey stretches further and you can get a glimpse of other otherworldly peaks such as Mt Pandim, Mt Thenchinkhang and Mt Jhopuno from a distance.

Quick Info
Duration: 5 days
Max. elevation: 4,000m (Dzongri)
Start/Finish: Yuksom/Yuksom
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Trail Style: Camping

Green Lake Trek

One of the most scenic trekking places in india. PC: Thrillophilia

One of the most scenic trekking places in india. PC: Thrillophilia

While not as popular as other treks in Sikkim, the Green Lake trail is a scenic trek that allows you get a view of Mount Kanchenjunga at height close to 5,000m.

Surrounded by alpine trees and vast green fields as far as the eye can see, the Green Lake stands right at the base of the Kanchenjunga mountain offering unobstructed views of all the Kanchenjunga peaks, including Main, Central, South and West and Kangbachen.

It is known to be an arduous trek for thrill-seekers and naturalists who are keen observers of India’s rare and endangered species. The trek passes through India’s first ‘Mixed Heritage’ listed UNESCO World heritage Site of Khanchendzonga National Park, a biosphere reserve and home to rare and endangered species like Musk Deer, Snow Leopard, Clouded Leopard, Himalayan Tahr, Sloth Bear and Red Panda.

Quick Info
Duration: 17-20 days
Max. elevation: 4,935m (Green Lake)
Start/Finish: Lachen/Lachen
Difficulty: Hard
Trail Style: Camping

Why Trekking In The Indian Himalayas Is Inspiring

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There are dozen of trails in the Indian Himalayas - one that does not require a one-time visit but countless visits and time spend among these magical massifs. We may live in a time of hyper-convenience where getting access to thousands of stuff makes it easier, but here in the mountains, none of these things seem to matter.

I loved spending my time in the Indian mountains and while I did not get to trek all these trails and mountains, I did hear a fair bit about these trails and found them to be full of genuine awe and praises among avid trekkers.

A trek in the Indian mountains is affordable, somewhat convenient and people-free sometimes if you choose the right time to travel in the Indian Himalayas (somewhere between March - May) and (August - October) you will be highly rewarded.

After all, this is all about experiencing yourself and how you react when put in such fragile yet stunning landscapes. It’s not about turning your back to these places, but it’s about opening up, seeing people, experiencing the Earth.

A pro-tip: For all details of mountain routes, trek itineraries and even guides, I found IndiaHikes to be super useful - they even have Do-It-Yourself hikes for independent trekkers in India who prefer navigating the route on their own. Even then, finding a guide without any prior booking was possible even if you rock up at the towns - sometimes way cheaper than the Internet prices.

Also Read: The 15 Best Treks in Nepal For Every Level

Have you trekked any of these mountains in the Indian Himalayas? Tell me in the comments below if there’s one particular trek you’re fascinated about.

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The best trekking places in the Indian Himalayas are remote, awe-inspiring and filled with wonder. From Ladakh to Uttarakhand and Sikkim, here are the best trekking places to hike in India to explore, write, or do nothing. #IndianHimalayas #Trekking #Hiking #Asia #India #SoloDestinations #Outdoors #Treks #Adventure
A trek in the Indian mountains is affordable, somewhat convenient and people-free sometimes if you choose the right time to travel in the Indian Himalayas. From Ladakh to Uttarakhand and Sikkim, here are the best trekking places to hike in India to explore, write, or do nothing. #IndianHimalayas #Trekking #Hiking #Asia #India #SoloDestinations #Outdoors #Treks #Adventure